BANK OF ALBANIA
Eighth Meeting of the National Payment Systems Committee
Publication date: 09.11.2022
On 9 November 2022, the National Payment Systems Committee (NPSC) held its eighth meeting chaired by Ms Luljeta Minxhozi, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Albania.
In addition to NPSC members - the Chairman of the Albanian Association of Banks (AAB), the Chairman of the AAB's Payments Committee and the Minister of Finance and Economy - representatives from the Albania the Financial Supervision Authority, the National Agency of ICT (AKSHI), the World Bank; and other international institutions, also attended this meeting. Representatives of banks, non-bank financial institutions, and national operators of card payment schemes, as well as experts of the Bank of Albania also participated in the meeting.
First Deputy Governor, Ms Minxhozi, opened the proceedings of this meeting. The Governor of the Bank of Albania, Mr Gent Sejko, and the Minister of Finance and Economy, Ms Delina Ibrahimaj addressed to participants in this event. In his welcome remarks, Governor Sejko highlighted that the Bank of Albania, as the monetary, regulatory and supervisory authority, deems both financial inclusion and education, as two rather crucial strategic objectives for the monetary and financial stability, in turn for the formalisation and sustainable growth of the economy. In this regard, insofar implemented measures have reflected quite positive developments in the market, thus enabling the meeting of the targeted quantitative objectives in almost half of path of the National Retail Payment Strategy Action Plan.
In more concrete terms, the use of electronic payments reached at 12.5 cashless payments per capita, exceeding the targeted objective in the Strategy of 10 payments per capital till the end of 2023. In 2022 this figure will hit at 16 cashless payments per capita, added Governor Sejko. The volume of card payments cards have considerably edged up, particularly in the last five years (2018-2022) marking an average growth trend of around 40% per year. In addition, POS terminals have increased considerably in the same period, by 78%.
These indicators exhibit the heightened use of electronic payment instruments by consumers, which in turn positively affects the formalisation of the economy- said the governor. Thanks to the data in the National Register of accounts, the Bank of Albania has a more correct view which is easily updated on the financial inclusion of the population. These data show that Albanian citizens have a relatively pleasant level of financial inclusion, with almost 69% of the population owing an account. ‘’At the beginning, our objective was the financial inclusion of 70% of the population. We assess, this level will be exceeded in the short run, thus achieving a considerable approximate with the Balkans and the European Union countries’’ – commented the Governor.
The governor highlighted that, aiming to support the developments in the market, the Bank of Albania, is working on the improvement of payment system aimed at introducing new standards of both communication and services which address the infrastructural needs for the implementation of the strategy.
Concluding, the Governor said that the work has started for drafting and implementing a National Financial Education Strategy, aiming at a more efficient materialisation of the analysed measures in this strategy.
Next, the Minister of Finance and Economy, Delina Ibrahimaj addressed to this meeting. In the beginning of her speech, Ms Ibrahimaj, mentioned a number of projects, undertaken by the Ministry and the Government, which support the digitalization of the government services and the formalization of the Albanian economy, being closely related to the objectives of the National Retail Payments Strategy. In this context, Ms Ibrahimaj paid attention to the fiscalization process and the Law "On Payment Services”, which, despite regulating different fields, are interconnected to the transverse digitalization of the process. In addition, Ms Ibrahimaj mentioned the facilities created by the National Register of Accounts for the dynamic measurement of the financial inclusion of the population. An important step in the framework of financial inclusion undertaken by the government is the transfer of pensions through the Albanian post office and the creation of the social card project.
In addition, the Minister put emphasis on the continuous cooperation of the Ministry of Finance and Economy with the Bank of Albania in various legal initiatives, in particular the drafting of the Law "On payment account with basic features", as well as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MoFE, BoA, National Agency of ICT, and AAB, regarding the digitalization of payments for public and private services.
Then, discussions in the meeting continued at a more technical level. The first panel, chaired by Deputy Governor, Ms Minxhozi, focused on the financial education and the need for a strategic intervention at national level. In this regard, the Head of the Research Department at the Bank of Albania, Mr Altin Tanku, in his presentation addressed in a concrete manner the National Strategy on Financial Education and its implementation in real life. In addition, Mimoza Kaci Senior representative of AFSA, presented the initiatives of this institution regarding the financial education and the close cooperation with the Bank of Albania in this regard. Meanwhile, Mrs. Edlira Dashi, representative of the World Bank, made an in-depth analysis of the situation in Albania, as well as presented the best practices and the necessary steps for the future regarding the National Strategy on Financial Education.
The eighth meeting of NPSC continued with the second panel, chaired by Mr. Spiro Brumbulli, Secretary General of Albanian Association of Banks. In his comments, Mr Brumbulli focused on promoting market innovation through open banking and instant payment. Initially, Mr Bledar Shella, Chairman of the Board of Albanian Association of Banks, presented the latest market developments and projects, which clearly dictate the innovation and digitalization of the payments in Albania.
In this panel, Mr. Deniz Deralla, Head of the Supervision Department at the Bank of Albania, provided an overview of the regulation on Open Banking and Strong Customer Authentication - two very important elements for the efficient and safe operation of innovative services promoted by the Law "On payment services". The discussions of this panel ended with the presentation of the findings of the Bank of Albania from the study on the feasibility of the Instant Payment project in Albania, presented by Mrs. Valentina Semi, Deputy Director at the Department of Payment Systems, Accounting and Finance.
In the third and last panel of this meeting, led by Ms Brunilda Isaj, Secretary General of the Albanian Microfinance Association, focused on innovative services offered by various market actors, in line with the National Strategy of Retail Payments and the law "On payment services".
Concluding, based on the discussions of the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee, Deputy Governor Minxhozi, recommended the continuation of the commitment to promote financial education at the national level, coupled with intensification intensify a and coordination of efforts for realizing open banking and instant payment in Albania.